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Heat adds to hardship in flood-hit areas
People in western Japan are battling soaring temperatures as they still reel from devastating floods and landslides triggered by record rainfalls.
The heat has been intense across much of the nation recently, hitting a high of 38.8 degrees Celsius on Sunday and over 39 degrees on Monday.
The conditions have been even harder to handle in Hiroshima Prefecture, where searches for missing people and clean-up work continue in the hardest-hit areas.
Volunteers have been forced to take frequent breaks in the shade to protect themselves.
In Okayama Prefecture, residents and volunteers are tackling an overwhelming amount of debris. It's been piling up along roadsides, and is starting to smell foul and disrupt traffic.
Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa visited the prefecture. He says the government will help find disposal sites to speed up the removal work.
Punishing heat covers Japan
Weather officials in Japan are warning of continued high temperatures on Sunday in western and eastern parts of the country, and are advising people to take the utmost precaution against heatstroke.
On Saturday, daytime temperatures surpassed 38 degrees Celsius in Gifu, Mie and Kyoto Prefectures.
Record highs for this year were observed at around 300 out of 927 locations across the country.
The Meteorological Agency says a strong high-pressure system is expected to cover wide areas on Sunday.
Officials say that risk of heat stroke is increasing, especially in the areas hit by the recent record rain where many residents are still staying at emergency shelters or working to clear debris.
They are advising residents to take periodic breaks, drink water, and get appropriate salt intake.
They are calling for caution against further landslides and flooding in those areas, as the torrential rain has loosened the ground and mud and logs have blocked rivers.
They also warn that unstable atmospheric conditions, mainly in eastern Japan, may bring thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui joins Real Betis
Season's first Pacific saury fetches record price
The season's first Pacific saury catch has been auctioned for more than 630 dollars a fish, the highest price on record, at a wholesale market in Hokkaido, northern Japan.
The auction began on Wednesday morning. More than 200 kilograms of Pacific saury was sold at the market in Sapporo City.
One kilogram of large-sized saury fetched over 4,500 dollars, or around 630 dollars a fish.
The season began on Sunday off the east coast of Hokkaido. The first haul on Tuesday, was 700 kilograms, only about a third of last year's size.
A wholesale firm official said the fish have become smaller and that the catches are dwindling.
He said he's happy that the saury fetched such a high price, partly to celebrate the start of the auctions. But he expressed concern that consumers may shun them if they become too expensive.
Part of Okinawa Pref. in Typhoon storm zone
A very strong typhoon is moving south of Okinawa, with part of the prefecture falling into the storm zone.
Japan's meteorological agency says that as of 1 PM on Tuesday, Typhoon Maria was moving westward 80 kilometers east-southeast of Miyakojima Island at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour.
The agency says that the typhoon has a central atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals and is packing winds of up to about 180 kilometers per hour. It says that the Miyakojima region has already fallen into the storm zone.
The typhoon is forecast to continue moving westward, bringing violent winds and heavy rain to the Sakishima Islands through Wednesday.
Death toll from heavy rain reaches 148
Officials in Japan say the death toll from floods and landslides caused by record rainfall in the western part of the country has reached 148.
Authorities say 59 are missing.
Hiroshima Prefecture is the hardest-hit area, with 55 people reported dead.
Record rain damages lifeline in western Japan
People affected by record rainfall in western Japan remain without water and electricity due to damaged lifeline infrastructure.
The health and welfare ministry says 269,000 households remained without water as of 5 AM on Tuesday. At least 2,300 households were without power as of 11 AM.
NHK has learned that more than 8,400 people in 15 prefectures, mainly in hardest-hit Okayama and Hiroshima, were staying at shelters as of Tuesday morning.
The distribution of goods to the affected areas has been disrupted, mainly due to the suspension of freight train operations between the Tokyo Metropolitan area and the western regions.
Emergency warnings issued for Ehime, Kochi
The Meteorological Agency has issued emergency warnings for extremely heavy rain in Ehime and Kochi prefectures in western Japan.
The warning for Gifu Prefecture in central Japan remains in effect.
Weather officials say residents of these areas are at risk from flooding and mudslides.
The city of Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture saw about 364 millimeters of rain between and 5 and 7 AM. That's about 1.5 times the average monthly rainfall for July.
Up to three times the average monthly rainfall has fallen so far in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture, Misato Town in Ehime Prefecture, Hiroshima City and Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.
Weather officials say there is an imminent risk of a serious disaster on a scale that has not been seen for decades.
At least 64 dead in floods, landslides
Authorities in Japan warn that the death toll may rise in floods and landslides caused by record rainfall in the western part of the country.
They say that, as of 11:30 AM, on Sunday, 64 people are dead and 4 remain unconscious. At least 44 are missing.
Hiroshima Prefecture was the hardest hit with 27 people reported dead. 19 were killed in Ehime prefecture.
Fatalities were also reported in Okayama, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Fukuoka, Kochi and Yamaguchi prefectures.
2 people were found unconscious in Hiroshima Prefecture and 2 in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The flooding and landslides are hindering rescue operations.
Thai Boys Wait for Rescue from Cave
The 12 boys found trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand have sent video messages to their families, who are waiting anxiously for their return. Eleven days after the group went missing, all appear to be in good health.
Thailand's navy released the new video of the boys and their soccer coach on July 4th. It shows them wrapped in what appear to be warming blankets. They each fold their hands in the Thai greeting and introduce themselves in a few words.
They all break into laughter when one boy sitting in front says he missed out saying something for the recording. The video also shows them getting treatment for the scrapes on their feet and legs.
Thai authorities are considering sending in navy divers to help the boys swim out through the caves' tight corners, but it is still not clear exactly when and how the group will be brought out. A local official says they will continue pumping water out of the caves.
Education ministry official suspected of bribery
Tokyo prosecutors have arrested a senior education and science ministry official on suspicion of soliciting and accepting a bribe.
Futoshi Sano heads the ministry's Science and Technology Policy Bureau.
Prosecutors say when Sano was head of the ministry's secretariat in May last year, he helped Tokyo Medical University be chosen for the ministry's aid program for private universities.
In return, he allegedly got the university to let his child pass its entrance exam by adding points.
Prosecutors are searching the education ministry as part of their investigation.
Education and science minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters on Wednesday that Justice Ministry officials informed him about Sano's arrest.
He says the arrest is very regrettable, adding that the ministry will fully cooperate with investigators.
Hayashi also said that he will take swift action to carry out the arrested bureau chief's jobs.
Japanese Emperor recovering
Japanese Emperor Akihito is resting for a 3rd day in a row due to cerebral anemia, although officials say his condition is improving.
The Emperor has canceled or postponed his official duties since Monday, after complaining of dizziness and a stomachache. Doctors say the symptoms are due to cerebral anemia.
The Imperial Household Agency says the Emperor is resting as a precaution on Wednesday, despite his improved condition.
He was due to join a luncheon with foreign envoys, together with Empress Michiko. Crown Prince Naruhito went on his behalf.
The agency's officials say the Emperor will carry out some duties, such as signing government documents, while he continues to rest.
Japan soccer team praised for sportsmanship
Japan's national soccer squad has created a stir on social media after a post-match photo of the team's perfectly clean locker room went viral on Twitter.
The picture was tweeted after the team crashed out to a 2-3 loss to Belgium at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Japan had held the lead, but Belgium caught up before netting the winning goal in stoppage time. The loss denied Japan its first-ever progression to the quarterfinals.
The photo was apparently taken by a FIFA coordinator. It shows a handwritten "thank you" note in Russian that was left on a table in the middle of the neatly arranged room.
The tweet said the team "thanked their fans in the stadium, cleaned up everything and spoke to media." It ended with: "What an example for all the teams!! Privilege to work with!"
The photo was retweeted more than 17,000 times in 5 hours. It attracted more than 270 comments complimenting the team on its perfect sportsmanship off the pitch.
Japanese supporters have also won praise for picking up litter in stadiums after their team plays.
Princess Ayako meets reporters with fiance-to-be
Princess Ayako and her fiance-to-be have jointly met with reporters after Japan's Imperial Household Agency formally announced plans for their engagement.
The 27-year old princess is the third daughter of the late Prince Takamado, Emperor Akihito's cousin. Her prospective fiance, Kei Moriya, aged 32, works for major shipping firm Nippon Yusen.
They appeared together at a televised news conference at the household agency in Tokyo on Monday.
Princess Ayako first referred to last month's earthquake in northern Osaka, western Japan, that left 5 people dead and many injured. She said she prays for the repose of those that passed away, and that she is praying that life in the affected areas will return to normal as soon as possible.
Asked how she feels at present, the princess said she is happy to be making this announcement, while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of the gravity of their decision.
She reflected on her first meeting with Moriya in December, saying they "hit it off" immediately and enjoyed talking to each other for a long time. She added that as they continued to meet, she found herself attracted to Moriya for being a kind, smart and decisive man.
The princess disclosed that Moriya proposed early this year, and she gave her reply in April after spending time with their families, friends and acquaintances.
Moriya said his first impression of the princess was someone who was forward-looking and positive.
He said that over time he was attracted by the kindness she extended to everyone they met, and felt that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
The princess said she wants to create a bright family, and Moriya said they hope to continue to respect each other.
The couple met reporters for nearly 15 minutes. They were seen making eye contact and smiling at each other.
Veteran rakugo storyteller Katsura Utamaru dies
One of Japan's best-known rakugo storytellers, Katsura Utamaru, has died. He was 81 years old.
The Rakugo Art Association says Utamaru died on Monday from lung disease. He had been the head of the Association since 2004.
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, he became a storyteller's apprentice after graduating from junior high school.
He later became popular as a performer of traditional tales, particularly ghost stories. He also helped revive old tales that had been almost forgotten.
Utamaru was a household name as a regular on the long-running TV comedy show "Shoten" since its launch in 1966.
He became the show's presenter in 2006, continuing until he left the program 2 years ago due to ill health.
The veteran storyteller was honored with a medal -- the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette -- from the government in 2007 for his services to the arts.
Utamaru spent time in hospital on and off in recent years with pulmonary and intestinal conditions.
Despite his ailing health, he appeared on stage in August last year to give his annual summer performances.
June 30, 08:52
Launch of private Japanese firm's rocket fails,
A small rocket developed by a Japanese startup company has failed to enter space. It was launched on Saturday but fell to the ground, bursting into flames.
Interstellar Technologies, based in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, developed and produced the 10-meter-long rocket.
It was launched around 5:30 AM from a site in the town of Taiki in the prefecture, but fell soon after liftoff.
The company and firefighters say the area within a 600-meter radius of the launch site was cordoned off, and that no one was injured.
Interstellar Technologies has been developing and producing space rockets on its own, and is aiming to become the first private Japanese company to send them more than 100 kilometers above the Earth.
The company's first rocket was launched in July of last year, but it broke at an altitude of 10 kilometers. The company said larger-than-expected force was applied to the rocket.
The company was to launch another rocket in April this year, but canceled it after finding a problem with its body shortly before the scheduled liftoff.
Rocket development in the country has been led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, a public entity.
Tokyo Assembly passes anti-smoking ordinance
The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has passed an ordinance that, in principle, bans indoor smoking in restaurants that hire employees, regardless of the size of the establishment.
The regulation strengthens measures against passive smoking and is stricter than a state bill now being deliberated in the Diet.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government had submitted the draft ordinance to tackle the health hazards of secondhand smoking ahead of the city hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Metropolitan Assembly approved the proposal by majority vote at a plenary session on Wednesday.
Tomin First, Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and others voted in favor of the ordinance, while those from the Liberal Democratic Party voted against. LDP members called the regulation plan ineffective, saying that it would be difficult to judge whether a restaurant actually hires an employee or not. They also said it has not gained public understanding.
The Tokyo government plans to bring the regulation into force in stages by April 2020, ahead of the Games.
The ordinance is tougher than a state bill being deliberated in the Diet.
Under the national bill, existing restaurants with a customer floor area of 100 square meters or smaller would be able to allow indoor smoking as an interim measure as long as they put up a sign outside.
The state bill would also ban smoking in the premises of kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools, but would allow the designation of outdoor smoking areas. The Tokyo ordinance will not allow for such areas.
Another NZ minister to take maternity leaveWorld
A senior member of New Zealand's government is following in the footsteps of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by planning to take maternity leave. Ardern became the world's first serving prime minister to take time off from work to care for a baby.
The government announced that Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter is expected to give birth to her first child in August and plans to take up to 3 months' maternity leave.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage will take over Genter's duties during her absence.
Before the announcement, Genter told NHK that the prime minister is setting an example and making it easier for others to take maternity leave.
She said people in New Zealand think Ardern shows that women in the 21st century can have careers while being mothers.
Ardern thankful for support for her giving birth
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed gratitude for the support and blessings she received from around the world after the birth of her first child.
Ardern spoke to reporters for the first time since giving birth on Thursday.
Holding her new-born daughter in her arms, Ardern said on Sunday that she is "sleep deprived" but her family is "doing really well."
Ardern said her baby's name is Neve Te Aroha. She said Neve means "bright" and "radiant" in Ireland, the home of her ancestors.
Ardern is the world's first sitting prime minister to take maternity leave.
She said she hopes for a future where children can make choices about how to raise a family and what kind of career to have based on what they want and what makes them happy.
After her 6-week leave, Ardern aims to balance her jobs as prime minister and mother with the help of her partner, who will be a stay-at-home father.
Heavy rains threaten Kyushu and quake areas
Torrential rain is hitting the island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan.
The Meteorological Agency has issued a landslide warning for some areas of Oita and Kumamoto prefectures in northern and central Kyushu.
They say southern Kyushu may also be hit by torrential rain through Thursday evening.
Weather officials say western and central Japan may have thunderstorms through Wednesday evening. They say the heavy rain may continue for several hours along the Pacific coast of western Japan.
They are advising residents to be on the alert for landslides, floods, gusts and lightning.
Kyushu Railway suspended Shinkansen bullet train services on a section of the line in Kagoshima Prefecture on Wednesday morning because of the heavy rainfall.
Officials are also warning of the possibility of landslides in areas hit by Monday's powerful earthquake. They say even minor rainfall could trigger landslides if the ground has been loosened.
As of 7:00 AM on Wednesday, authorities had issued evacuation orders or advisories for more than 700 households in Osaka Prefecture.
At least 4 dead, 350 injured in Osaka quake
Monday's major earthquake in western Japan left 4 people dead and more than 350 injured.
The Meteorological Agency is warning it's possible another big earthquake could hit in the coming days.
Agency's official says "Frequent seismic activity is continuing in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture.
Strong tremors could have raised the risk of landslides or building collapse. People in such areas are advised to watch out for further seismic activity and rain."
The earthquake struck before 8 AM in northern Osaka and measured 6.1 in magnitude.
On Japan's seismic intensity scale of zero to seven, it's categorized as a six-minus.
9-year-old Rina Miyake was killed when a wall collapsed while she was on her way to school.
80-year-old Minoru Yasui was also hit by a falling wall in a different area. He was on his way to do volunteer work for a local school.
85-year-old Motochika Goto was killed after a bookshelf fell on him. Many of the injured have been taken to hospital with the biggest number of injuries reported in the prefecture of Osaka.
Authorities are also dealing with damage. Firefighters have put out three house fires in northern Osaka.
Pipes have cracked underneath some roads and ceiling tiles fell in city halls in Osaka, Hyogo and Nara Prefectures as well as at the terminal building of Osaka airport.
Around 1,300 people have fled to evacuation centers set up across Osaka. 100,000 homes are without gas and water outages are being reported in the northern half of Osaka.
Shinkansen bullet train services in the area were suspended for hours for safety checks.
All the service resumed in the afternoon, but there were numerous cancellations and delays.
Local trains have also been affected stranding thousands of passengers.
Japan's nuclear regulator says no problems have been found with reactors in Fukui Prefecture.
They are located to the north of the quake's epicenter.
Trump: Kim can call me directly
US President Donald Trump has said he gave North Korean leader Kim Jong Un his phone number so that the two can contact each other directly.
Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Friday that Kim can call him if he has any difficulties and he can call Kim. "We have communication. It's a very good thing."
Trump also said he plans to make a phone call to the North on Sunday. But he did not disclose the name of the person he will be talking to.
The joint statement signed by Trump and Kim on June 12th reaffirmed that Pyongyang is committed to working toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In return, Trump promised to provide security guarantees to the North.
N.Korean media: Abductions already settled
An international broadcast by North Korea's state-run radio stated that the issue of the abductions of Japanese nationals has already been settled. It was the first mention of that issue by the North Korean media since US President Donald Trump raised it during his June 12th summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Japanese news agency Radiopress reports that Pyongyang Broadcasting Station aired a commentary on Japan on Friday night. The news agency analyzes North Korean state-run media.
The broadcaster echoed Pyongyang's long-held stance on the abduction issue. It said Japan is attempting to gain something it wants by raising an issue that North Koreans say is already resolved.
It went on to criticize Tokyo for what it describes as desperate disruption of the trend toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, which it says the international community is united in welcoming.
The commentary comes as the Japanese government is trying to set up direct talks, eyeing the possibility of resolving the issue at a Japan-North Korea summit.
Onodera comments on dialogue with N.Korea
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says North Korea's nuclear and missile issues will be discussed in parallel with its abductions of Japanese nationals when the countries talk.
Following the US-North Korea summit, the Japanese government is expected to seek direct talks with the North.
Onodera said on Friday it is important that the 2 countries negotiate directly on the abductions. He said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will take leadership and negotiate with the North.
Onodera said it is important to resolve the abduction, nuclear and missile issues if 2 nations are to normalize relations.
He said Japan will ask the North to give up its nuclear and missile development while holding talks on its abductions.
On America's joint military exercises with South Korea, Onodera said he continues to regard the drills, and trilateral drills involving Japan, as key pillars of regional peace and stability. US President Donald Trump has suggested the drills could be suspended.
Kim 'open' to dialogue with Japan
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly said he was open to dialogue with Japan during Tuesday's summit in Singapore with US President Donald Trump.
A Japanese government source said on Thursday that Trump told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Kim was open to dialogue with Japan. The source said Trump suggested to Abe that negotiations on the abduction issue should be pursued along with those on North Korea's denuclearization and that Japan should have a key role.
Trump spoke by phone with Abe on Tuesday night on his way home from the summit.
Abe told reporters that Trump had clearly conveyed Japan's stance on the abduction issue to the North Korean leader. Abe did not give details.
He emphasized that if a Japan-North Korea summit is held, it is crucial that the talks lead to a resolution of the abduction issue, along with the issues of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed Abe's comments when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.
He said the Japanese government is addressing the matter in various ways, and is determined to resolve the abduction issue through direct talks with Pyongyang, with President Trump's strong support.
Suga said nothing has been decided yet about a summit with North Korea. But he said he hopes to see a summit that would lead to resolving the issues of North Korea's nuclear arms and missiles, and above all, the abductions of Japanese nationals.
Historic US-N.Korea summit begins
The first-ever summit meeting between the United States and North Korea has begun in Singapore.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began their meeting at the luxury Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island shortly after 9 AM on Tuesday.
The major focus of the historic meeting is whether it will lead to the complete denuclearization of North Korea or to a formal end to the Korean War, which halted with the signing of an armistice in 1953.
At the start of the talks, the two leaders smiled as they shook hands, exchanged words and posed for the cameras in front of the flags of their countries.
The White House says Trump and Kim will first talk alone with just the interpreters. Later, the leaders will be joined by their ministers and aides in an expanded meeting.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton will be among the American officials at the session.
Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party and Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, and other officials are expected to join the meeting.
The 2 sides are scheduled to have lunch together.
President Trump is expected to hold a news conference at around 4 PM. He is to leave Singapore at 7 PM and head home.
US fighter jet crashes off Okinawa
A US military fighter jet has crashed into the sea off Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa.
The Japanese Defense Ministry's regional bureau in Okinawa says the pilot ejected from the plane and was rescued by a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force helicopter. Police say the pilot sustained a serious leg bone fracture.
The F-15 fighter went down in the sea about 80 kilometers south of Naha City early Monday morning.
The US forces in Japan tweeted that the aircraft crashed during a training mission and that its pilot has been safely recovered.
The regional headquarters of the Japan Coast Guard is conducting a sea and air survey to learn the cause of the accident. Okinawa Prefecture is collecting information.
The aircraft is deployed at the US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.
Okinawa Deputy Governor Moritake Tomikawa told reporters that the prefectural office will hold a meeting on the accident. Citing local people's concerns, he said the prefecture will lodge a protest on the matter.
G7 leaders discuss trade
Leaders of the Group of 7 nations discussed trade on their first day of meetings in Canada. It's believed there was heated debate between the United States and other nations over the issue of free trade.
The leaders are meeting at the resort of Charlevoix for the 2-day summit, which opened on Friday.
A rift has widened among the G7 leaders after the United States added the EU nations and Canada to its target list for heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is believed to have argued that tit-for-tat trade restrictions will adversely affect the world economy and benefit no one.
Details of the discussions are yet to be made public. But Japanese government officials say some countries argued in favor of free trade, and against protectionism. Others raised the issue of trade imbalances and called for fairer trade.
Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held talks ahead of the summit. They agreed the multilateral trade system based on World Trade Organization rules should be maintained.
Security tight at US-N.Korea summit venue
Authorities in Singapore are imposing tight security measures in and around the venue for next week's US-North Korea summit.
The White House said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island on June 12th.
Cars were seen lined up outside the hotel on Wednesday as employees stopped and checked each vehicle that arrived.
Access to the island is limited. It's connected to the mainland by a single road.
A local woman said security will be lighter on the island than downtown. She said Singapore is a small state without resources and that it's nice for it to showcase its ability to host such a big international event.
The Singaporean government plans to designate Sentosa Island and certain parts of the city as special event areas with tightened security.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, is requiring all aircraft arriving at Singapore Changi Airport to reduce speed from Monday through Wednesday next week.
Singapore sets special zone for US-N.Korea summit
Singapore's government has designated a central part of the city-state as a "special event area" for a planned US-North Korea summit on June 12th.
The government announced on Monday the area will be subject to stringent security measures between June 10th and 14th.
During that period, police may check the personal belongings of people entering the designated zone.
A list of prohibited items includes explosives, as well as bullhorns and large banners.
The area is home to the US Embassy and high-end hotels.
The Shangri-La Hotel is in the area. It's been named as a possible venue for the planned talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
With only a week to go before the summit, there have been no announcements about where the leaders will stay or meet.
IAEA chief: N.Korea inspections may start in weeks
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says its inspectors are getting ready to visit North Korea within weeks if requested, to verify the country's nuclear program.
The Director General of the UN nuclear watchdog agency Yukiya Amano spoke at a meeting of its Board of Directors that began in Vienna on Monday.
The US-North Korean summit, scheduled for June 12th, is due to focus on the North's denuclearization.
Amano said the IAEA continues to enhance its readiness to play an essential role in verifying North Korea's nuclear program, if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.
Amano also said that Iran is complying with a nuclear deal with world powers, despite US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw his country from the pact.
Amano said the IAEA continues to verify and monitor Iran's implementation of its commitments under the agreement, as requested by the UN Security Council.
He said inspectors have been able to access all the sites and locations in Iran that they needed to visit.
But at a news conference later, Amano requested that Iran provide the IAEA with more proactive and timely cooperation.
Pompeo, Kim Yong Chol end first day of talks
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim Yong Chol, have ended their first day of talks in New York.
Pompeo and Kim arrived separately in New York on Wednesday afternoon for their planned 2-day meeting.
In the evening, they held discussions for about 90 minutes over dinner at a US government facility in Manhattan.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that the focus of the meeting would be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Pompeo tweeted earlier in the day that he was looking forward to meeting Kim Yong Chol in New York to discuss the potential US-North Korea summit.
He wrote that the US is committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea claims it already has nuclear capabilities. Pyongyang is maintaining its stance of a phased approach to denuclearization, while seeking measures that include an easing of economic sanctions.
It remains to be seen whether the 2 sides can bridge their differences and pave the way for the first-ever US-North Korea summit.
Kake union requests explanation from managers
The union of teachers and staff for a school operator at the heart of favoritism allegations involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticized the operator's management.
Last week, Kake Educational Institution said in a statement that it had misinformed authorities about a meeting between its head, Kotaro Kake, and Abe.
The institution now says the meeting never took place.
On Thursday, the union submitted a written request to management, demanding that Kake give a public explanation.
The union says the institution's behavior amounts to a "lie" and that it's unforgivable for an educational organization.
The union criticized executives for giving false explanations and reports during the process of setting up a new veterinary school in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture.
The union said such misconduct is a breach of trust with local authorities and the public and seriously harms confidence in the school operator.
Union members are apparently worried that the issue may have a significant impact on school enrollment next year.
Kake Gakuen apologizes for false Abe story
A veterinary school operator in Japan has apologized to prefectural officials for misinforming them about a meeting between its president and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The operator now denies the meeting, a focal point of an alleged favoritism scandal, ever took place.
The chief secretary of Kake Educational Institution, Yoshito Watanabe, visited officials of the Ehime Prefectural Government on Thursday to apologize.
The purported meeting was mentioned in an internal Ehime document submitted to the Diet to aid its probe into allegations of favoritism leading to the opening of the veterinary school in the prefecture.
The document quoted a Kake official as telling Ehime officials that the school operator's president, Kotaro Kake, who is a close friend of Abe, met him on February 25, 2015, to explain his plan to open a new school in the city of Imabari.
Not long after, Ehime asked the central government to designate an area of the city as a special deregulation zone for the proposed school.
The request was granted, and the school opened this April, backed by local government subsidies.
Last week, after the Ehime document caused an uproar in the Diet, the school operator said it had misled the city and the prefecture by telling them a fictitious story about the meeting with the prime minister.
On Wednesday, Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura demanded a formal explanation and apology.
The governor was in Taiwan on a business trip when the school official visited the prefecture on Thursday.
Speaking to NHK on Thursday evening in Taiwan, Nakamura said it would be extremely regrettable if Kake Institution did indeed lie about the meeting.
He noted there is a tendency among some people to concoct a new lie to try and cover up an older one.
He said it is very important that the school operator tells the whole truth. He said the best way for the school to regain its reputation would be for its president to hold a news conference as soon as possible.
2018年5月29日 4 hours ago
N.Korean official in Singapore to prepare summit
A high-ranking North Korean official who arrived in Singapore on Monday is expected to meet US officials to discuss plans for a potential US-North Korean summit.
Kim Chang Son, who has been referred to as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's "butler" by South Korean media, flew into the city-state via Beijing on Monday.
Meanwhile, a plane carrying a team of US government officials took off from US Yokota Air Base in Tokyo on the same day for Singapore.
Those on board are said to include the White House deputy chief of staff for operations, Joe Hagin.
The 2 sides will likely hold preparatory talks for what would be the first-ever summit between the leaders of the US and North Korea.
US President Donald Trump has expressed a desire to hold the summit on June 12th as initially planned, despite abruptly announcing last week that he would cancel the meeting.
Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong Un
US President Donald Trump has cancelled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which had been scheduled for June 12th in Singapore.
Trump said "I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea, and indeed a setback for the world."
He added that he has ordered Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and senior military officers to be ready to respond to any foolish or reckless acts by North Korea.
He said South Korea and Japan are willing to bear much of the financial burden if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon the US.
The president said North Korea can obtain a bright and beautiful future only when the threat of nuclear weapons is removed.
Trump also said "If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting... and in the meantime, our very strong sanctions by far the strongest sanctions ever imposed...and maximum pressure campaign will continue as it has been continuing ...but no matter what happens, and what we do, we will never ever compromise safety and security of the United States of America."
In a letter to Kim Jong Un, Trump writes that he feels having the meeting at this time is inappropriate "based on the tremendous anger and hostility" in a recent statement from Pyongyang.
Referring to North Korea's comments about its nuclear capabilities, Trump says the capabilities of the US are "so massive and powerful."
Trump says North Korea and the world have lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity. He says the missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.
But the president writes he looks forward to meeting Kim someday. Trump says that if Kim changes his mind, he only needs to contact him.
Pyongyang earlier threatened to call off the summit if the US demanded that North Korea unilaterally disarm.
Trump had said that if Kim made a deal with the US, he would get strong protection.
South Korea's President called an emergency meeting right after Trump released his letter to North Korea.
Moon Jae-in says the move is puzzling and regrettable.
Moon calls the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace "historic tasks that can be neither abandoned nor delayed".
Moon says it is difficult for sensitive diplomatic issues to be solved through the current means of communication and hopes they will be solved through direct and close talks between Trump and Kim.
And the secretary-general of the United Nations says he is concerned by the cancellation of the summit.
Antonio Guterres said he urges the parties to continue their dialogue to find a path to the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Police probe likely over foul in college football
NHK has learned that police have received a complaint about a serious foul committed during an American football match between 2 Japanese university teams.
During the May 6th game in Tokyo, a Nihon University defender tackled a Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback from behind after the player had thrown a pass. The quarterback suffered injuries that will take 3 weeks to heal.
Investigative sources say the injured player reported the incident to the police.
On Saturday, the head coach of the Nihon University team, Masato Uchida, apologized and said he intends to resign.
But Uchida did not comment on an allegation that he instructed the defender to commit the foul. He said he will respond to that question in writing.
The father of the injured Kwansei Gakuin quarterback says he is not satisfied with Uchida's response because he didn't explain why the defender carried out the dangerous tackle.
Tokyo police are expected to launch an investigation of the case.
Trump to wait on N.Korea, demand denuclearization
US President Donald Trump says he will insist on denuclearization at his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea's first vice minister of foreign affairs on Wednesday hinted at calling off the US-North Korea summit scheduled for next month. Kim Kye Gwan said the North would be forced to reconsider the meeting if the US tries to drive the country into a corner and demand unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Trump met reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
He said the United States hasn't been notified at all that North Korea cancelled the meeting. He said his administration will wait and see what happens.
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders also met some members of the media, where she called the US-North Korea summit an important meeting.
She expressed readiness to proceed with preparations.
She described Trump as being prepared for tough negotiations.
She said if North Korea wants to meet, the United States will be ready, and if it doesn't, that is okay, too.
She added that if North Korea does not wish to have a meeting, the US will continue the ongoing maximum pressure campaign.
Trump welcomes freed 3 Americans
US President Donald Trump has welcomed home 3 American detainees released by North Korea.
An airplane carrying the 3 Korean-Americans landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington early on Thursday local time.
The President and First Lady Melania Trump boarded the plane to welcome the returnees, and appeared with the 3 men at the top of the plane's stairway. The three waved and gave "V" signs to the media.
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greeted the former detainees on the tarmac.
Trump told reporters that it's a special night for the three. He thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for releasing them.
He said that it was a very important thing for all Americans to be able to get the 3 great people out, and that a lot of very good things will happen.
Trump also said that his proudest achievement will be when the US government denuclearizes the entire Korean Peninsula.
The 3 Korean-Americans left the air force base for a nearby hospital to receive a medical checkup.
North Korea released the detainees on Wednesday after Pompeo met the country's leader Kim Jong Un for the 2nd time in less than 2 months.
Pompeo is believed to have discussed the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim. But details of the meeting have not been disclosed.
Also on Wednesday, Trump said the date and venue for the summit will be announced within 3 days.
But he said it will not be held at the demilitarized zone between the 2 Koreas, a place he previously showed interest in as a possible location.
Some observers are saying that Singapore is the most likely venue.
Trump, Moon to meet in Washington on May 22
The White House says President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in Washington on May 22nd ahead of the prospective US-North Korea summit.
White House officials said in a statement on Friday that the third summit between the 2 leaders will affirm the strength of the US-South Korea alliance. They said Trump and Moon will continue their close coordination on developments regarding the Korean Peninsula in the wake of the April 27th inter-Korean summit.
They said the leaders will also discuss Trump's upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The US president earlier said the date and place for his meeting with Kim had been set and promised to announce the details soon.
The venues under consideration included Singapore and the truce village of Panmunjom, where the inter-Korean summit took place.
Abductee's family member meets son of US detainee
A son of a Japanese woman kidnapped by North Korean agents has met an American man whose father is detained in the North.
Koichiro Iizuka's mother, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted and taken to North Korea in 1978.
Iizuka is visiting Washington ahead of the planned US-North Korea summit to call for US cooperation for the early return of his mother and other Japanese abductees.
Iizuka said he met with Kim Sol in Los Angeles on Wednesday on his way to the US capital.
Kim Sol is the eldest son of Kim Sang-duk, one of the 3 Americans who are being detained in North Korea for committing what Pyongyang says are "hostile acts" against the North, and other charges.
US President Donald Trump says he aims to take the opportunity of the US-North Korea summit to achieve the release of the American detainees.
Iizuka told reporters in Washington that Kim Sol expressed a strong hope that the summit will lead to the release of his father.
He added that Kim Sol conveyed his sympathy for the families of Japanese abductees, who have continued to suffer for 40 years.
Iizuka said he wants to continue his efforts to raise awareness of the Japanese abductees and the American detainees.
Inter-Korean summit to take place on Friday
The leaders of the 2 Koreas will meet at a South Korean facility in the truce village of Panmunjom on Friday. It will be the first inter-Korean summit in 10-and-a-half years.
At 9:30 AM, Kim Jong Un will become the first North Korean leader to cross the military demarcation line on foot to the South Korean side. He will be greeted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The 2 leaders will start their summit in the facility named Peace House at 10:30 AM.
Their talks will likely focus on denuclearization and peace ahead of an expected first-ever summit between North Korea and the United States. The previous 2 inter-Korean summits centered on economic cooperation.
Kim referred to some preconditions for denuclearization in his recent key meetings.
In a meeting with Moon's special envoy to Pyongyang in early March, Kim said the North would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons if the safety of its leadership can be guaranteed and the military threats against the country are removed.
In a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in late March, Kim said the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the US take progressive and synchronous measures.
At a plenary session of North Korea's governing Workers' Party central committee last week, Kim said his country will suspend its nuclear tests and test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
But Kim fell short of mentioning abandoning nuclear weapons, which Pyongyang claims to possess.
Attention is focused on whether Kim will agree to incorporate his purported willingness for denuclearization into a joint declaration or other form of document in Friday's summit.
N.Korea: No more nuclear, missile tests
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country will suspend nuclear and missile tests from Saturday and will also shut down a nuclear test site.
The North's state-run Korean Central Television reported on Saturday that Kim made the announcement at a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party central committee in Pyongyang on Friday.
Kim reportedly said that North Korea no longer needs to conduct any nuclear tests or test launches of medium and long-range as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles.
He also said the mission at the nuclear test site in the northern region has ended.
Kim said the decision was made because the North has completed its development of nuclear weapons and means of transportation and attack.
Participants at the committee meeting unanimously adopted the decision to suspend nuclear and ICBM test launches and shut down the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province.
North Korea said it will cooperate and hold dialogues with neighboring countries and the international community to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the world.
It also said it would focus on rebuilding its economy.
At the same time, the country hinted at the possibility of resuming nuclear tests and ICBM test launches, by saying it will never use nuclear weapons or transfer such weapons and technology unless it faces nuclear threats or provocations.
The announcement appears to be an attempt by the North to show that it is serious about denuclearization and to take the initiative at upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.
Abe, Trump end 2nd-day talks
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump have wrapped up their 2nd day of talks in the US state of Florida. They held a joint news conference on Wednesday night.
At the outset of their meeting, Trump took up the US trade deficit with Japan. He expressed hope to reduce the deficit and achieve a balance in a relatively short period. He added Japan has a plan to purchase a number of fighter jets and passenger aircraft from the United States. Trump says that the issue will be resolved, citing his expertise in the field.
Abe responded by saying that the Asia-Pacific region is a powerful growth center to lead the global economy. He said he hopes Japan and the US will work together to expand trade and investment in both countries.
To achieve that end, Abe said it is important for the 2 countries to expand a free and fair framework in the Asia-Pacific region that would be suitable for the 21st century.
During the talks that lasted for over one and a half hours, Abe is believed to have referenced massive investments by Japanese firms while proposing a new framework to discuss trade and investment.
Japan's Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also attended the 2nd day of talks, which were held after Abe and Trump played golf together.
TV Asahi: Employee was harassed by Fukuda
A Japanese television network says a woman employee is among the victims of alleged sexual harassment by a top bureaucrat of the Finance Ministry.
Hiroshi Shinozuka, the news bureau chief of Tokyo-based TV Asahi, was speaking at a news conference early on Thursday.
Administrative Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda was accused of making harassing comments to woman reporters after the Shukan Shincho weekly magazine reported on the scandal.
He expressed his intention to step down on Wednesday, but he stressed that the magazine's allegations are false and that he will take the matter to court.
Shinozuka said the employee dined with Fukuda for news gathering purposes several times from about one-and-a-half years ago.
He noted that she started recording conversations with Fukuda because he made harassing remarks on those occasions.
Shinozuka said the firm examined the recordings and concluded that Fukuda engaged in sexual harassment despite his denials.
Shinozuka said the TV network will lodge an official protest with the ministry.
The bureau chief stated that the employee asked her superior to publicly report the misconduct, but the official decided not to do so due to concern that being named could cause her further harm.
Shinozuka said the firm did not lodge any protest with the ministry or Fukuda himself.
The chief noted the employee thought that the misconduct would be overlooked, and made contact with the magazine and provided some of the recordings.
TV Asahi says it was inappropriate for the employee to provide information to another party that was obtained through news gathering activity.
Shinozuka said the organization should have studied how to deal with the matter but failed to do so.
People rally to protest Moritomo, Kake scandals
Crowds rallied outside Japan's Diet on Saturday to protest scandals engulfing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government.
The rally began at 2 PM. Demonstrators filled the path to the main entrance of
the Diet building.
The protesters shouted they will never forgive falsifications and cover-ups and held up signs calling for "full disclosure" and "clean politics."
They want to know the truth concerning 2 scandals surrounding the prime minister. One involves the Finance Ministry's tampering with official documents related to a sale of land to a school operator at a steep discount. Abe's wife was slated to become the planned school's honorary principal, sparking allegations of favoritism.
People are also questioning the approval process to open a veterinary school operated by a close friend of the prime minister. A newly disclosed memo implies that Abe's former secretary suggested the project was of personal interest to the prime minister.
A woman in her 40s who attended the rally said she thought she cannot let things stay the way they are after seeing new evidence surface. She said she wants Abe's former secretary to testify as a sworn witness.
Another man in his 60s said the foundation of democracy is at stake with documents being altered and the truth being concealed. He said he wants the Abe administration to take responsibility.
Aso warns top bureaucrat about reported conduct
Japan's finance minister has given a verbal warning to the ministry's top bureaucrat over a magazine article accusing the government official of behavior akin to sexual harassment.
The story about administrative vice minister Junichi Fukuda appeared in the latest edition of the weekly Shukan Shincho that went on sale on Thursday.
The article says Fukuda repeatedly behaved in a manner that could be taken as sexual harassment toward several female reporters.
The story surfaced at a time when the Finance Ministry is under fire over its falsification of documents related to a heavily discounted sale of state land to a private school operator.
Speaking at an Upper House committee on Thursday, Finance Minister Taro Aso said Fukuda came to explain himself in person.
Aso said Fukuda told him that he does not remember so clearly about the dates and reporters involved in each of the occasions mentioned in the magazine article.
Aso also quoted Fukuda as saying that while it is impossible to confirm the veracity of the article, he will be careful from now on to avoid any misunderstanding.
Aso said he told Fukuda that the official needs to be aware of the situation now facing the Finance Ministry and must conduct himself in a proper manner.
But Aso said he is not considering any disciplinary measure against Fukuda at the moment, saying he seems to be repentant.
NHK poll: Cabinet approval rate sinks to 38%
An NHK poll shows that support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has dropped to 38 percent, down 6 points from the previous month. The disapproval rate rose 7 points to 45 percent, exceeding the support rate for the first time in half a year.
NHK conducted the telephone survey over the weekend. Over 1,200 people responded.
Among supporters of the Cabinet, 48 percent said it seems better than alternatives. 18 percent cited the Cabinet's ability to implement policies. 17 percent said it's the Cabinet of the parties they support.
Among those who disapprove, 46 percent said they don't trust Abe. 26 percent cited low expectations for his policies. 10 percent said other Cabinets would be better.
The daily activity logs of a Japan Self-Defense Force unit dispatched to Iraq were initially claimed to have been destroyed. But the records have turned up.
When questioned about whether they see the management of official documents by the government as problematic, 66 percent replied it was, while 5 percent said it was not. 20 percent were undecided.
Although the existence of the activity logs was confirmed in March of last year, the Self-Defense Forces failed to report the discovery to the defense minister.
Asked whether the principle of civilian control of the SDF functioned properly or not, 5 percent replied it did, while 51 percent answered it did not. 33 percent were undecided.
Former senior Finance Ministry official Nobuhisa Sagawa gave sworn testimony in the Diet last month over a state-owned land deal. He refused to answer a number of key questions, citing the possibility of criminal prosecution.
Asked about the testimony, 16 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with Sagawa's answers, while 76 percent said they were not.
The heavily discounted sale of the land to a school operator allegedly led to the falsification of official documents by Finance Ministry officials.
Questioned on whether Finance Minister Taro Aso should step down, 35 percent said "yes," while 25 percent said "no." 32 percent were undecided.
Regarding the land deal scandal, opposition parties are demanding that Prime Minister Abe's wife, Akie, who was to be honorary principal of the planned elementary school, and some senior officials should testify in the Diet. The ruling parties say they cannot comply.
When asked whether these people should be questioned as sworn witnesses, 53 percent said it is necessary. 21 percent replied it is not necessary. 17 percent said they cannot say.
The government is set to enact a bill to reform the country's work system. The bill calls for a system that rewards highly professional workers with high incomes based on the results they produce rather than the hours they work. 14 percent approved of the bill, 32 percent did not. And 42 percent were undecided.
Defense Ministry starts probe into Iraq logs
Japan's Defense Ministry has begun a probe into why the discovery of the Ground Self-Defense Force's Iraq activity logs was not reported immediately to the defense minister at the time.
The logs were found at the GSDF research department in March last year but were not reported to Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.
Ministry sources said the ministry's investigation team began questioning on Thursday a dozen employees who were working at the department at the time.
Inada's order to search for the logs was relayed from the Ground Staff Office to the department.
But GSDF officials say a department manager wasn't aware of the order from the Minister or that the logs were being discussed in the Diet.
Sumo chief sorry for improper referee request
The Japan Sumo Association has apologized for an inappropriate request that women leave a sumo ring where they were providing emergency treatment.
The apology came after female medics entered the ring during a spring sumo event in Manazuru City of Kyoto Prefecture on Wednesday.
The women were among association staffers trying to give emergency treatment to the city's mayor, Ryozo Tatami, who had suddenly collapsed while making a speech in the ring.
A referee urged the women to leave, as professional sumo traditionally bans women from entering the ring.
The mayor was later taken to a hospital and underwent an operation for brain hemorrhage.
Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku issued an apology later in the day, calling the referee's response inappropriate.
Stablemaster Kasugano, who's in charge of sumo tours, also said the reaction was inappropriate even if the referee was upset during the emergency.
He added that the association will consider how to respond to emergencies.
The association had sparked controversy twice by barring female officials from entering the ring during award ceremonies.
Stephen Hawking mourned at his funeral
The funeral of British physicist Stephen Hawking has been held at the University of Cambridge.
Family members accompanied his coffin into the college church on Saturday, with many mourners outside the building. Hawking lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years.
Local media say about 500 people, including relatives and colleagues, attended the service.
Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in the film "The Theory of Everything," read a farewell tribute. The movie depicts the professor's life.
His ashes will be interred at London's Westminster Abbey alongside some of history's greatest scientists, including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
Hawking died on March 14th, aged 76. He suffered from a degenerative disease but continued his research into the origins of the universe, black holes and other phenomena.
Kim, Moon to discuss denuclearization issue
North and South Korea have agreed to hold a summit of their leaders on April 27th. A South Korean official says the agenda will include denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
High-level North and South Korean delegates met on Thursday at a facility on the North's side of the border truce village of Panmunjom.
The officials issued a joint news statement after the more-than-4-hour ministerial meeting.
The delegates said they agreed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader Kim Jong Un will meet at a South Korean facility in Panmunjom.
The inter-Korean summit would be the third ever and the first in over a decade.
The officials also agreed to hold working-level talks next Wednesday in Panmunjom to discuss matters such as protocol and security for the summit.
South Korea's delegation was led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. The North's was led by Ri Son Gwon, the head of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.
Asked after the meeting by reporters whether the summit agenda will include denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Cho said yes.
He added that the summit will be another start of a great journey to denuclearize the peninsula, bring peace to the region and develop inter-Korean ties.
Ri said the announcement of the date for the summit has given great expectation and hope to all people longing for peace on the peninsula.
Protestors gather near Diet in Tokyo
Protestors have gathered near Tokyo's Diet building, where a former Finance Ministry official testified about a document-tampering scandal.
A civic group called for the rally on Tuesday evening.
A member of the group shouted that the testimony given by Nobuhisa Sagawa only deepened suspicions.
Protestors chanted that Sagawa must answer all questions and demanded a full investigation into the land deal involving school operator Moritomo Gakuen.
A 67-year-old man said distrust of the government increased due to the meaningless testimony, in which most questions went unanswered.
He said he will raise his voice to demand a full explanation.
A 70-year-old woman said the prime minister's wife, Akie Abe, should be summoned for sworn testimony.
Key figure in land deal scandal testifying at Diet
Japan's former tax agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa started giving testimony at the Diet on Tuesday on a state-owned land deal scandal.
Sagawa is expected to shed light on the scandal that has dogged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government and dented his approval rating.
Sagawa could face perjury charges if he makes false statements.
Amid allegations he was responsible, Sagawa did not say who ordered the altering of official documents related to the deal or why.
Sagawa oversaw the controversial land sale and repeatedly defended it last year.
The Finance Ministry sold the land to school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, in 2016 for a fraction of the market value.
The prime minister's wife, Akie Abe, was initially the honorary principal of a new school on the land, sparking allegations of favoritism.
Earlier this month the Finance Ministry admitted to altering more than a dozen documents related to the deal including the removal of an allegation that Akie Abe encouraged Moritomo to proceed with the project.
The prime minister denies his wife made the remarks.
Opposition parties are also demanding Akie Abe testify before the Diet, a move the ruling camp is resisting.
Cherries in bloom at Imperial Palace Japan
Springtime cherry blossoms are drawing crowds of sightseers to the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.
More than 100 cherry trees of about 30 varieties line the route named Inui Street. The district's Somei-Yoshino trees are 50 to 80 percent in flower while other varieties are in full bloom.
The Imperial Household Agency says more than 10,000 people visited the street on Saturday morning.
The agency says Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko looked on as people walked the roughly 600-meter-long street.
Visitors took photos in front of the castle moat or stone walls.
A 75-year-old man was among the 3,700 visitors who waited for the street's gates to open. He said he waited at the head of the queue for over 4 hours and was looking forward to seeing the blossoms.
A 41-year-old visitor said she regularly jogs around the palace but this was the first time for her to enter the street. She said she was delighted by the pink and white blossoms.
A 10-year-old girl said flowers have completely emerged on some trees and are very beautiful.
The Meteorological Agency says Tokyo's flowering cherries are officially in full bloom. The announcement comes 10 days earlier than usual and 9 days earlier than last year.
Inui Street is open to the public between 10 AM and 3:30 PM every day through April 1st.
Putin says Russia is not behind attack on ex-spy
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement by Moscow in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.
Putin spoke to reporters on Sunday, 2 weeks after Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in Salisbury, southern Britain. They are critically ill in a British hospital.
The British government says a Russia-developed nerve agent, Novichok, was used in what it calls an assassination attempt.
Putin said Russia has destroyed all its chemical weapons and does not have such nerve agents.
He said it would be nonsense for Russia to embark on such an escapade ahead of a presidential election and the soccer World Cup.
Putin said Moscow is ready to cooperate with London and take part in the necessary investigations.
The March 4th incident has strained bilateral ties. The 2 countries have expelled more than 20 of each other's diplomats.
N.Korea demands Japan change its attitude
North Korea is warning Japan that sanctions and pressure will prevent dialogue between the 2 countries.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary on Saturday that Japan "may not get a ticket to Pyongyang" if it continues actions that are ill-natured and without discretion. It said Japan is desperately calling for sanctions and pressure because it is upset by recent trends.
Japan has been calling on the international community to apply maximum pressure on the North while the leaders of the United States and South Korea plan to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea's official news media have recently been toning down the strong language they've used against the administrations of US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Abe apologizes for document alterations
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologized for the Finance Ministry's tampering with government documents.
Abe spoke to reporters on Monday upon leaving the Prime Minister's Office.
He described the situation as one that may erode public trust in the entire administration.
He said he feels keenly responsible, and wants to apologize to the Japanese people.
Abe said he is acutely aware that the public is casting a critical eye on the matter, and that he will bear this in mind during its investigation.
Abe said he expects Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso to fulfill his responsibilities. He said he wants Aso to do his utmost to see that there are no similar recurrences, and to reform the ministry to regain public trust.
Rally in Tokyo demands Abe Cabinet resignations
Demonstrators have gathered in front of the Diet building in central Tokyo, demanding that the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe step down.
Many people responded to a citizen group's call for a rally on Monday evening. The demonstrators are chanting that the Abe Cabinet should resign.
A 63-year old man said he is angered by the altering of Finance Ministry documents. He added he believes this is not simply something done by bureaucrats and that the whole story must be revealed.
A 68-year old woman said she cannot tolerate a situation in which people have repeatedly been lied to. She urged the Abe Cabinet to take responsibility by having all members resign.
Tax chief resigns amid controversy
The Japanese government on Friday approved the resignation of Nobuhisa Sagawa as Commissioner of the National Tax Agency after more than a year of controversy over the sale of a plot of state-owned land. Sagawa was in charge of state property at the Finance Ministry until last July.
He became caught up in the scandal relating to the sale of the property by a regional Finance Ministry bureau to private school operator Moritomo Gakuen in Osaka in 2016. The sale price was 7.5 million dollars less than its market value, sparking allegations of cronyism.
After the scandal broke in February last year, Sagawa appeared in the Diet to answer questions about the deal.
He insisted that regional bureau officials did not negotiate a price with Moritomo. The emergence of a voice recording cast doubt on Sagawa's claim.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife was initially set to be the honorary principal of an elementary school that Moritomo Gakuen planned to open last April. Abe says neither he nor his wife was involved in the deal.
Last week the scandal was back in the spotlight after a newspaper claimed documents of the sale had been altered. The report alleged some parts of the documents submitted to the Diet last year were different from the originals.
After becoming Tax Agency chief last July, Sagawa did not hold a press briefing, despite numerous requests.
Protests were recently held in front of the National Tax Agency building and in other places to demand Sagawa's resignation.
South Korean envoys leave for US
South Korean envoys, who returned from their visit to North Korea, have left for Washington to brief the US administration on their talks with the North's leadership.
A South Korean delegation, led by the head of South Korea's National Security Office, Chung Eui-yong, met North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Monday.
Both sides agreed to hold a 3rd inter-Korean summit on the south side of the truce village of Panmunjom in late April.
On Thursday, Chung and National Intelligence Service Chief Suh Hoon, who also visited Pyongyang, departed for Washington from Incheon airport near the capital Seoul.
The 2 officials are expected to meet White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster and Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo. They are scheduled to come back to Seoul on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Chung said he thinks conditions are now right for talks between the United States and North Korea.
On Thursday, Chung also stressed the need to quickly make circumstances for a dialogue between the US and North Korea.
In explaining to lawmakers of governing and opposition parties on Wednesday, however, President Moon Jae-in said that denuclearization is the final goal and it is difficult to immediately achieve that.
Observers say all eyes are on how the US side will respond to the South Korean explanation as the administration of President Donald Trump has demanded the North make clear its intention of denuclearization.
Opposition presses govt. over land sale document
Senior officials of Japanese opposition parties say the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should resign if a newspaper report that a government document regarding a controversial land deal has been altered is true.
The parcel of state-owned land in western Japan was sold to a school operator in June 2016 for about 7.5 million dollars less than its appraised value. Finance Ministry officials said the discount was to offset the cost of removing waste buried at the site.
The ministry disclosed to lawmakers an internal document on the sale after the issue surfaced in February last year.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported last week that some parts of the document were different from the papers drawn up when a local office of the ministry concluded the transaction.
Senior officials of political parties discussed the issue during an NHK debate program on Sunday.
The secretary-general of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, Tetsuro Fukuyama, said it is unthinkable that official documents would be rewritten after being formalized. He said if the media report is true, that could amount to a crime.
Representatives from opposition parties urged the government to look into the allegation quickly.
Keizo Takemi, a senior member of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said his party will look into the matter and clearly explain it to the people.
Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova says she's happy to know that she will receive the gift of an Akita dog from Japan.
People in the Japanese prefecture of Akita have offered one of the dogs to the 15-year-old gold medalist in women's singles at the PyeongChang Games to commemorate her victory.
Zagitova was asked about the move during a post-Olympic public relations event in Moscow on Thursday.
She replied that if an Akita dog comes to her side, that would be good news.
After the event, she revealed that she had been informed that she will receive a female Akita from Japan.
She said she will think about a name for the dog and she will be sure to find time to take the dog for walks.
Zagitova was all smiles and said thanks in Japanese for the gift.
Zagitova told Japanese media during the Olympics how she fell in love with the Akita breed when she saw photos in a magazine while training in Niigata, Japan shortly before the Games. Zagitova said at the time that she had asked her parents to get one for her if she did well at PyeongChang.
There is a group dedicated to preserving the breed in the city of Odate in Akita Prefecture. A representative of the group, Yasutami Togashi, said he wants to send one to Zagitova to make her dream come true. He said that a redheaded puppy may suit the athlete. He also said he hopes to see her come to Odate, along with her Akita.
Olympic athletes meet fans in Tokyo
A crowd of more than 1,000 fans gathered in Tokyo on Tuesday to honor Japanese
medalists as well as other athletes who competed in the Pyeong Chang Winter
Team Japan returned home on Monday with a record haul of 13 medals.
The Japanese Olympic Committee held the fan event after a ceremony to disband its delegation to South Korea.
500-meter speed skating gold medalist Nao Kodaira was the captain of the athletes' delegation. She said the high medal count is the result of everyone's hard work and strong competitiveness. She added that the team is grateful for the warm encouragement they received from many people.
The athletes and coaches then took the podium separately in each sport.
Yuzuru Hanyu, who won gold in figure skating for the 2nd straight Olympic Games, said he is very happy. He said his medal is the result of staking not just his skating life, but his future on a win. He thanked the people who have been cheering him on.
The women's curling team won bronze, bringing Japan its first medal in the sport. Skip Satsuki Fujisawa and other team members reproduced for fans their unique calls during matches.
Ivanka Trump to attend PyeongChang closing
US President Donald Trump is sending his daughter Ivanka to Sunday's closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Trump's announcement on Wednesday said Ivanka, an advisor to the president, will lead a delegation that includes White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and the commander of US forces in South Korea.
Ivanka Trump said in a statement that she is honored, and looks forward to congratulating Team USA and celebrating all that the athletes have achieved.
She is scheduled to dine with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Friday.
A senior US government official denied the possibility that she might meet North Korean officials.
The high-profile delegation, following Vice President Mike Pence's attendance at the opening ceremony, is seen as Trump's attempt to stress America's close alliance with South Korea.
Onodera: US F16 dumps fuel tanks into lake
A fighter jet from the US Misawa Airbase in northern Japan developed an engine fire on Tuesday morning and offloaded fuel tanks into a lake.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera disclosed the mishap to reporters based on a report from the US military.
He said the engine fire broke out immediately after the F16 jet took off from Misawa Airbase in Aomori Prefecture, at around 8:39 AM. The pilot offloaded 2 external fuel tanks into Ogawara Lake to the north of the airbase before returning to the base at 8:42 AM.
Onodera said there have been no reports of injuries or damage on the ground.
He said he presumes the 2 fuel tanks were released for safety reasons.
This is the latest in a recent series of accidents involving US military aircraft in Japan.
Onodera said he will hear explanations from the US military about why the
incident happened and he will request measures to prevent recurrences.
Follow-up on Self-Defense Forces helicopter crash
Japanese Self-Defense Forces officials investigating last Monday's helicopter crash suspect the main rotor head could have broken in mid-air.
A Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter crashed into a house in Saga Prefecture, western Japan, and burst into flames. Two personnel on board died and an elementary school girl injured her foot while escaping from the house.
The officials say they found fragments of the main rotor head at the crash site as well as at 2 other locations about 300 meters and 500 meters east of the site. Those parts are vital to the aircraft and connect rotor blades to the chopper.
They said the old parts were replaced with new ones during maintenance work shortly before liftoff.
They said workers assembled the parts in the same way as the manufacturer.
They are investigating what caused the rotor head to break.
The officials also say that damage caused by the crash was found at 7 other locations.
Parts from the helicopter pierced through the roof of a nearby house southeast of the accident site.
Oil from the aircraft stained playground equipment at a kindergarten 150 meters north of the site.
The accident also caused damage to rain gutters of houses, the wall of a warehouse and an agricultural greenhouse.
No one was injured at these locations.